Releasing its 2011 World Superbike livery today, Yamaha had to unveil its YZF-R1 with a profusion of the color blue, and total lack of a title sponsorship. Not renewing its contract after the 2010 season, Italian milk producer Sterilgarda is notably absent from the team livery. It might have been assumed that Sterilgarda would stay on to sponsor Italian rider Marco Melandri, but the once promising MotoGP rider obviously did not have the drawing power for the Italian brand.
This lack of corporate sponsorship is a worrying trend for the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer, as Yamaha has yet to announce a sponsor for its MotoGP team, after Fiat exited with its bags of money when Valentino Rossi left Yamaha for Ducati Corse (there’s considerable talk that when Yamaha debuts its MotoGP livery in Sepang later this month, it’ll be with corporate colors as well).
Riding for Yamaha in World Superbike are Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty. Melandri won the 250GP championship in 2002, and moved up to the premier class the next season. Injuries and a lack of affinity with his machines have kept the Italian closer to the rear of the pack in MotoGP, than at the front. He replaces James Toseland, who won in WSBK, but had similar issues in MotoGP at Yamaha.
Laverty was within a shoving match of the World Supersport championship in 2010, and has replaced Cal Crutchlow, who is off to MotoGP to again attempt to fill the boots of Ben Spies. Both riders can be found on Twitter, providing bits of information both personal and racing-related, at @MarcoMelandri33 and @eugenelaverty.
Yamaha will join the rest of the 2011 WSBK field at Phillip Island in less than a week for the official World Superbike test and the season opening races on Februray 27th.
Source: Yamaha Racing